Five Minutes with a Member of the Gluten-Free Community: Doug Foster, Co-Founder of Aurochs Brewing Co.
Name: Doug Foster
City, State: Pittsburgh, PA
Place of Work: Aurochs Brewing Co.
Date of diagnosis: Spring of 1991 (Just turned 6)
- Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your favorite food, what do you do for fun, what are your interests, where did you grow up/go to school, etc?
I was born in Pittsburgh, graduated from Pine Richland High School, attended college at Penn State and have been following a gluten free diet from a very young age. My tastes and interests continue to grow as I get older, but one constant in my life has always been been great friends and family. I’m getting married next year and love spending time with my fiance.
- Where do you work now? Does it involve gluten-intolerance?
I work for Aurochs Brewing Co. It’s funny how your perspective changes when you take on the challenge of starting your own business. Aurochs Brewing Co. has become an obsession, so to I say I work for Aurochs Brewing isn’t really correct–we live and breathe to brew great tasting craft beer for everyone to enjoy.
- How did you discover you were celiac/gluten intolerant?
That’s probably a better question for my parents. When I was four years old, my parents noticed a drastic change in my behavior. I was frequently ill, looked sickly and never wanted to eat any of the foods most kids loved to eat. After months in the dark, months of inconclusive tests and misdiagnosis, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
- What are your favorite gluten-free recipes/foods/companies/restaurants and why?
It is exciting to say there are too many to list! That hasn’t always been the case. Locally, I love to eat at Bella Frutteto, Monterey Bay and Mandy’s Pizza. Right now, I am all about Franktuary. Great gluten free hot dogs and they are leading charge for a the growing number of food trucks in Pittsburgh. My absolute favorite food/feast/day/experience would have to be Thanksgiving. My mom makes one heck of a spread, complete with homemade gluten free stuffing and gravy.
- Which resources do you use to learn about gluten-free food (websites, blogs, meet-up groups, friends, etc.) What do you find useful about each?
My fiance, Amy, has Celiac Disease and owns a natural and allergen free grocery store, Naturally Soergel’s. In addition to running the store and working with her customers, Amy has a masters in public health. She is passionate about finding new and interesting foods, allergen free and otherwise, and enjoys educating herself on what is new in dietary, personal, and public health. She is a great resource for me.
- What did you discover because of celiac disease/gluten intolerance that you might not have found otherwise?
In the May of 2009, I learned of new allergen free grocery store opening on premise at a Soergel Orchards, a family farm market and local institution for anyone from the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. I stopped in one afternoon to check it out. While shopping, I was waited on by the store’s owner and proprietor, Amy Soergel. After helping me with my groceries, Amy and I hit it off and she agreed to give me her phone number (begrudgingly). A week or so later, we went out on an entirely gluten free date, a first for both of us. The rest, as they say, is history…
- Ok, last question–any advice to someone who has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease/gluten intolerance?
Be patient. Not everyone understands food allergies, your specific dietary needs or your personal struggles during diagnosis. Be sure to communicate your needs to your family, your grocer and/or your server.
Be firm. Don’t compromise your health because its convenient, but always be polite. You catch more flies with honey.
Be positive. There are a lot of great tasting options available to gluten free consumers, regardless of what you are looking for.
And, if you meet a girl while grocery shopping, be sure to get her number.